The coronavirus pandemic continues to change the way we shop, work, socialize, travel, and much more. In a fast-moving global crisis such as the current coronavirus outbreak, brands have an important role to play. Staying true to their ambition creates a perception of integrity. Reputations can be made by activating brand purpose during the crisis.
Amid panic and business shutdowns, we chatted with Onyinye Ago, Senior Account Executive, on how brands should communicate their messages effectively.
Brandessence: How should brands handle Communications during Coronavirus Crisis?
Onyinye Ago: This is a time when brand communications is more important than ever and for many brands, Covid-19 has put a test to crisis communications as they know it. For brands to succeed in their communication efforts during this period, they must be prepared to have an evolving approach to the situation as it unravels. It is important that communications to all relevant stakeholders be built on the pillars of timeliness, honesty, transparency, accountability, and consistency.
More so, as businesses begin to change their mode of operation, there is a need to ensure consistent communication internally in order to demystify the situation and curb panic that may arise due to uncertainties. Put employees’ minds at ease, by being transparent, boosting morale and providing hope for the future.
Beyond reaching employees and customers to communicate the safety measures being put in place by your organization, stakeholders also need to be kept updated on relevant issues particularly on plans for business continuity.
Brandessence: What can brands do to avoid the spread of misinformation and fake news during this crisis?
Onyinye Ago: It is important that companies act responsible during this period, by amplifying only authorized information obtained from government or approved health organisations and avoid releasing ambiguous information which may lead to unnecessary speculation and panic.
PR teams also need to be prepared to counter misinformation, limit spread and communicate the facts regarding their brands swiftly.
Brandessence: How should brands communicate with their consumers or customers during this crisis?
Onyinye Ago: In the wake of this global pandemic, brands need to re-evaluate customers’ needs, assess what value they can provide, then meaningfully engage with the customers communicating that. Your brand voice is important here, rethink promotion strategies and focus on communicating with empathy.
It is also important for brands to provide relief for their community where possible. We have seen a number of companies in the country lead the way in this area. Such actions by companies will go a long way in projecting brands as being socially responsible, particularly in this time.
Generally, consumer confidence is likely to plummet even further as Covid-19 continues to spread across Nigeria, but brands should see this as an opportunity to build brand equity, rather than keep silent. Offer customers reassurance and inspire confidence.
Brandessence: What is the impact of the coronavirus on business and economy?
Onyinye Ago: The growing numbers of Covid-19 confirmed cases in Nigeria and the stringent measures being taken to curtail the outbreak has resulted in a decline in economic activity. A lot of businesses are slowly beginning to feel the impact of loss of revenue as they slow down or suspend their business services due to the work from home policies and shutdowns.
The concern for many businesses is that more difficult decisions may have to be made in the nearest future if they are to survive the economic impact of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the immediate priority for all is to contribute to the success of the public health response by complying with relevant health authorities so that this phase can be over quickly, and businesses can bounce back as soon as possible. This will deeply improve the economic outlook.